With the NBA Draft quickly approaching potential trades, mock drafts, and other rumors have began to increase. I believe maximizing the NBA Draft this year for the Jazz could be done in a few different ways. The first I won’t discuss much, as I do not believe it holds much merit and was simply thrown out there as a what if situation. Chad Ford conducts a “chat wrap” each week, fielding questions from fans. He was asked a couple weeks ago about the Jazz moving up to the 1st pick and gave a couple of trade scenarios. One being the 5th pick and Favors. I don’t like that pick at all so I won’t expand elaborate more than saying it was one. The other was after the draft, when free agency opens up to do a sign and trade with Hayward and package him with Kanter for the 1st pick. This would allow the jazz to keep the 5th pick and upgrade both the PF and SF positions. However, again I do not see that trade being realistic. I just think it is a really cool idea and wanted to throw that out there.
Personally I think there are two realistic scenarios in which the Jazz can maximize the available talent in this years draft. The direction the Jazz take their pick(s) will be highly influenced by what the Magic do with the 4th pick. It is well known the Magic think very highly of Marcus Smart. They loved his last year and still think very highly of him. So highly in fact, they have brought him in twice for personal workouts. The first scenario is if the Magic take Marcus Smart. This would leave Dante Exum (or whoever else drops if Exum is taken earlier, but for the sake of argument I’m assuming it is Exum) on the board for the Jazz to draft. I believe if that is the case the 5th pick is a no-brainer and they take Exum. How they could then maximize the draft would be a trade with Boston. Pretty much anytime an analyst discusses teams that would be willing to trade a lottery pick the Celtics are one of, if not the first teams mentioned. My proposed trade would be Enes Kanter and the 23rd pick for the 6th pick. This would allow the Jazz to then draft Noah Vonleh and pair him next to Favors. With the Jazz viewing Favors as a Center I believe they are looking to trade Kanter. Packaging Kanter with the 23rd pick will allow the Jazz to draft a player in Vonleh who has range on his jumpshot, and can help protect the rim. Favors and Vonleh could eventually become the best defensive tandem in the league and Jazz fans can finally stop watching teams drive to the basket with no fear of their shot being blocked. They would also gain a 6’6″ point guard, who many believe would be in the discussion for the 1st pick had he played a year in college. Exum may very well be the next great point guard in the NBA. Pair Exum with Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Vonleh, and Derrick Favors and the Jazz would have a very formidable starting 5 in a couple of years. Then players such as Gobert coming off the bench would still provide the Jazz with a rim protector at all times during the game.
The second scenario is what happens if the first four players off the board are Embiid, Parker, Wiggins, and Exum. The Jazz would then select Vonleh with the 5th pick. The Jazz would then trade Kanter to the 76ers for the 10th pick and select Stauskas if available. If not then select McDermott. This would give the Jazz a lights out shooter they have not had since Korver left the team. Stauskas would keep defenses honest and allow the rest of the team to work without being doubled. Then if another player, say Burks gets hot and does demand a double team Stauskas has the ability to consistently make them pay. Additionally, the Jazz would be able to keep the 23 pick and simply take the best player available. This would give them chance to improve the bench, or select a young talented european prospect they can stash for a year or two until they are ready to come over.
Either one of these trades will allow the Jazz to improve their team, while only having to part ways with one of their “core” players. Losing Kanter would hurt as I seem his as a potential 20/10 player. However, he is not a power forward and with the Jazz expressing their desire to play Favors at center I believe it opens up the door for Kanter to be traded either way. This allows them to trade a valuable asset, but have him replaced by a player with much greater potential all around. The Jazz would then need to add some veteran players through free agency and let Snyder develop the young players and in a couple of years the Jazz will begin to see the benefits of these deals.